Strategies in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

636 words | 3 page(s)

Obesity, which is a serious health issue affecting approximately twenty percent of children, has been found to increase the likelihood of other serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes (CDC, 2018). Although risk factors of obesity are known, which mostly involves consuming more calories than are expended, both the American Heart Association (AHA) as well as the American Diabetes Association (ADA) have found that obesity within children is becoming more prevalent (Turnock, 2014). Because childhood obesity greatly increases the chances of adult obesity, there needs to be strategies in place to reduce the prevalence of diabetes, which in turn will increase the quality of life for millions of Americans.

The first strategy that can help fight obesity is increasing knowledge of proper nutrition and the value of physical exercise. This would most likely fall under the education system, as schools are in a position to influence the development of children. Many children may choose unhealthy foods because they simply do not know the foods they are choosing are unhealthy. Due to a lack of nutrition education in schools beyond a few lessons describing the food pyramid or basic food groups, many children never receive a quality education on proper nutrition. In turn, this will make them more likely to retain poor nutrition habits as adults.

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Thus, schools should be mandated to provide a more robust nutrition education, and this should be a mainstay of the curriculum rather than a one-time lesson. Additionally, schools should also increase opportunities for physical exercise, which might be provided during recess or through extracurricular activities, such as sports. Many children enjoy being active, so providing them with opportunities to remain active can help them understand the value of physical exercise. If children are more aware of the relationship between diet and physical activity with health, they will be more accustomed to proper nutrition and regular exercise which will normalize these behaviors. Essentially, they will be used to healthier eating habits and getting ample exercise, so they will practice these behaviors more naturally.

The second strategy that can be used to fight childhood obesity is to make healthier options more readily available throughout the community. Many families exhibit poor eating habits simply because that tends to be what is most available. There may be an organic grocery store across town, but their own neighborhood is most likely full of fast food restaurants and pizza joints. The government should therefore promote the establishment of healthier options by providing incentives for small businesses that seek to provide nutritious options, much in the same way the government provides incentives for businesses that have a green, energy-efficient focus. This might be done through providing tax breaks, or more accessible loans for business owners who seek to open healthier restaurants.

This would increase the presence of healthier options for families, which will help parents who may be too busy to cook food at home find a way to provide healthier meals for their children. The same sort of tax benefits could be applied to healthier grocery stores, or there could even be incentives placed on individual food items themselves. In the same vein, certain foods that are high in sugar or fat content, such as donuts and other pastries, could be taxed as well, so the healthy option costs the same as the unhealthy option. Many families may want to eat healthier, but because they live in areas where accessing healthy food is inconvenient, they will often resort to the more convenient and less healthy option. If the government can find ways to encourage the presence of healthier foods, it will encourage many parents to seek healthy options for their children.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Childhood obesity facts. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
  • Turnock, B. (2014). Public Health. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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